You always work hard on every job or project, no matter what it is. But you always see your co-workers/peers, who appear not to work as hard, get the promotion you want. That’s when you start to think that there is no point to working hard because you are destined for failure. This lack of promotions start to affect your cognitive behaviour, and clouds your perspective – you automatically think negatively about everything. There is no point in wearing good clothes because you spilled sauce on your favourite shirt, or you shouldn’t diet because you ate fast food. It’s safe to say that negative thoughts cause negative experiences. Your thoughts and feelings will affect your emotions, which, as a result, disrupt the way you behave in certain situations. Experts refer to this as having Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs) wired into your brain.
ANTs was crucial for humans’ survival in the Pleistocene Epoch (about 1.8 million years ago) because their pessimism prevented them from going out on a hunt when they heard or saw animals that were bigger and stronger than them. They may have starved that night, but they lived to hunt another day. But in this modern era, having ANTs is damaging; all you are doing is hurting yourself because there is nothing to hide from. So, it’s time to stop thinking negatively, and know that you can control your thoughts. There are several ways to do it, you just need to see which fits your needs the best.
The ANT Eater
According to psychiatrist, Dr. Daniel Amen, flipping your negative thoughts to positive ones can change your life for the better. Positive thoughts can affect your appearance, energy and enable you to succeed with your diet. He developed the ANT eater technique, which enables your brain to devour all negative thoughts. He says that you can do this by writing down “what your ANT-eater would say to that ANT to kill it.” This tactic allows you to clearly identify what exactly the thought is. If the thought is clearly identified, you can see if it even holds any truth to it. And if you can prove the thought to be false, then talk back to it, and tell them they are wrong.
Enjoy Your Positive Experience
In his book, Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence, Neuroscientist, Dr. Rick Hanson argues that reminiscing on a positive experience is great for the mind. Even though a “good experience is pretty mild,” one should try to “stay with it for 20 or 30 seconds in a row – instead of getting distracted by something else.” He says that by doing this, you create more positive patterns in the brain (it learns from experience), which builds new neural pathways.
Challenge Your Mind
Ever feel that your aches and pains seem to be non-existent when trying to solve a puzzle or memorize a piece of work? Well, use this to your advantage. You can shake off negative thoughts and put your mental focus on something else. Dr. Hanson says a good challenging mind exercise is to “count backwards from 100 in increments of seven,” or randomly multiply two numbers “like 14 and 23 in your head.”
There are many other mental exercises to perform that will enable you to overcome your cognitive behaviour. You can slow down your talking and walking, and relax yourself. Or you can become determined to overcome your negative thoughts on your own. But, most importantly, you need to remember there are no roadblocks. There might be stop signs, but they are only brief – you can keep moving forward.
M. Policicchio | DBPC Blog